A Simple Method to Approximate Gene Content in Large Pedigree Populations: Application to the Myostatin Gene in Dual-Purpose Belgian Blue Cattle

Animal. 2007 Feb;1(1):21-8. doi: 10.1017/S1751731107392628.


Gene content is the number of copies of a particular allele in a genotype of an animal. Gene content can be used to study additive gene action of candidate gene. Usually genotype data are available only for a part of population and for the rest gene contents have to be calculated based on typed relatives. Methods to calculate expected gene content for animals on large complex pedigrees are relatively complex. In this paper we proposed a practical method to calculate gene content using a linear regression. The method does not estimate genotype probabilities but these can be approximated from gene content assuming Hardy-Weinberg proportions. The approach was compared with other methods on multiple simulated data sets for real bovine pedigrees of 1 082 and 907 903 animals. Different allelic frequencies (0.4 and 0.2) and proportions of the missing genotypes (90, 70, and 50%) were considered in simulation. The simulation showed that the proposed method has similar capability to predict gene content as the iterative peeling method, however it requires less time and can be more practical for large pedigrees. The method was also applied to real data on the bovine myostatin locus on a large dual-purpose Belgian Blue pedigree of 235 133 animals. It was demonstrated that the proposed method can be easily adapted for particular pedigrees.